Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
95% of climate models agree: the observations must be wrong (drroyspencer.com)
111 points by Tycho on Feb 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 153 comments

"Earth and its ecosystems – created by God's intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting" - Roy Spencer

And what do you deduce from your quote as related to the argument about climate models set out by Roy Spencer? Does it destroy his case or are the models a resounding success?

Self correcting doesn't need to include self correcting and inhabitable by humans.

Another take on the graph, shown here: http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2014/02/roy-spencers-latest-decei...

It's been speculated on RealClimate that Roy Spencer is continuing to use the highest emission scenario for these comparisons, which is not made clear on his site.

Considering how strongly your sources disagree with the OP, I find it surprising that the opposing graphs are not all that far off from each other.

The graph from the last article you linked to: http://skepticalscience.com//pics/ProjvsObs.png

The graph from the OP: http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/CMIP5-90-mode...

In both cases the actuals are at the low end of the predicted range. They disagree as to how low, obviously, but not as much as I expected.

I clicked the comments just to see this. Thank you :). I had a sneaky suspicion something was up when it was just some casual mention of data and not really providing sources or demonstrating a thorough understanding of the data.

"If the deep ocean ends up averaging 4.1 deg. C, rather than 4.0 deg. C, it won’t really matter." He must be blissfully unaware of how badly the oceans are being affected right now by our impact.

He must be blissfully unaware of how badly the oceans are being affected right now by our impact.

This sentence really needs to cite actual data. "The oceans" are a pretty big place. And "localized" and "average" data are not comparable in any relevant sense given the scale.

Even if you could measure the energy in the ocean to that level of precision (unlikely) your time series data would be so limited so as to present caution in its reference, when discussin the context of global climate history.

It wasn't that long ago when John Muir was fighting the academic climate orthoxy over the sources of Yosemite valley. Its not a partisian or intellectual issue, its merely that data talks and bullshit walks. Muir did alot of walking to get his data, and argued alot with people that sat around theorizing talked alot of bullshit.

Its always worth a little bit of perspective.

We actually do have more than 3000 robots spread across the world's ocean measuring temperature. These robots have clever mechanisms to change their own density so that they can move from shallow depth to deep depth (up to 2000 m).

Conceived in 1999, this program has been running for more than 10 years now and we do have precise measurements of the energy in the ocean. We also do have less precise measurements before the program.

Sure, it would be better if we had more robots and more observation history, but we do have enough data to do the analysis.



While you have to start somewhere, this illustrates the larger point. Some basic facts about the scale of the problem remain:

"The total volume is approximately 1.3 billion cubic kilometres (310 million cu mi)[7] with an average depth of 3,682 metres (12,080 ft).[8]"

> 3x10^8 cubic miles vs 3x10^3 instruments

> Instrument cannot reach even ~average depth

> 10 years of data

Certainly, it is a start. But...

There is a huge amount about the oceans that we do not know and cannot measure with requisite precision. Understanding the difference between surface temperatures and the actual thermal potential of the earths oceans are two different tasks. EG, due to sub-surface thermal venting there are many areas of the deep ocean that don't at all look like surface temps. {etc} So there is huge potential for the oceans to do unexpected things. For all we know, plate tectonics may be driving huge amounts of thermal energy variation in the deep ocean...and a "proper climate model" would likely need to understand this at some stage. This really goes to the core of the question of the oceans as a heat-sink.

Yeah sure. All I am saying is that we now have better handle on the heat content of the upper ocean than before, and not locally so, but globally. I probably shouldn't have omitted "upper" qualifier.

I also think, while imperfect, our information is good enough to support "Earth is heating, the heat is mostly(>90%) going to the ocean" claim.

Data is always a good start, and I think most of the debate is centered more on presumptive undestanding or framing of the data themselves. Land surface temps, Sea Surface temps, are different pieces of data. So are actual <ocean temps> in the absolute scale. To the extent the ocean is a heat-sink (for example), the latter may be quite relevant.#

[#] In general, a useful thought experiment is consider the same way that the fin's on an air-cooled ICE are relevant to the thermal dynamics of the cylinder of a 4s motor. In other words, an air-cooled ICE and a water-cooled ICE with a busted radiator are going to do different things going forward from the same datapoint. That forward looking understanding presumes the mechanic has a handle on what type of engine his thermostat is hooked up to. None of this is intended to belittle the value of the data. But to emphasise the meaning of context and actual expertise in how it is used.

We all know politicians and scientific data tend not to mix objectively.

"It is a little known fact that the extra carbon dioxide (and methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas) emitted by joggers accounts for close to 10% of the current Global Warming problem." [1]

Ban gym class! Ban exercise!

[1] http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/tcs_daily/2005/06/time-for-ac...

Was there supposed to be a link there?

Yes, thanks. Still in the edit window.

How does this post have 60 points?

Excellent links.

Why do you consider any of those links to constitute "debunking" of the original linked post? Most of the points therein seem entirely compatible with the current claim

Most notably, the link on "climate models" says "Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean." and goes on to discuss hindcasting. But the argument here is about forecasting - how well the models did after predictions based on them were first published. How successfully do they turn out to reproduce temperatures since 2000? Not nearly as well as since 1900. Bringing up 1900 in this context seems like a red herring.

Further note: There's a difference between disagreeing and debunking. It can be assumed that skepticalscience will disagree with this sort of sentiment, but that doesn't make them correct to do so.

"International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project (ICECAP)"


I'm a natural skeptic, so when everyone believes something I think that is the most important time to question it. I found Economist Bjorn Lomborg's take on climate change to be very impactful... http://www.ted.com/talks/bjorn_lomborg_sets_global_prioritie...

The basic idea is: that given our limited resources how can we do the most good? The answer is that focusing that effort on climate change is frivolous even by the most optimistic predictions. Now that doesn't mean we should ignore it entirely. I'm generally of the mindset that problems aren't solved by "steady progress" rather by radical innovation that changes the game. To that point... it can be seen as a waste of time to enforce rules today that really won't make a difference tomorrow. Instead today's effort should be spent to enable the rapid innovation that when applied will actually make a significant difference tomorrow.

> The basic idea is: that given our limited resources how can we do the most good? The answer is that focusing that effort on climate change is frivolous even by the most optimistic predictions.

This is actually a fantastic point. Given the real, quantifiable health effects pollution has on humans (and other species), it seems more beneficial as a whole to deal with more immediate issues. Rather than quibbling over something that might, maybe, possibly reduce global temperatures by a few tenths of a degree. Maybe.

Great video, by the way. Thank you for sharing! Bjorn's basic premise could apply to so many things beyond simply world problems, which is what makes his talk fantastic.

Judging by the emotional investment some people have had in this thread, it'd be shameful if your post is missed. But, reasonable, balanced, rational measures seldom get people quite as excited as those that evoke emotion.

The problem with doing net present value calculations on climate change is the possibility of "infinite" cost events.

Sure it might make more sense from a NPV perspective to spend a given number of dollars on say improving the water treatment in poor countries rather than stopping GHG emissions, but only if we know the maximum cost of climate change. The problem becomes how do you do a NPV calculation on the possibility of a positive feedback warming event that causes the Earth to become uninhabitable. This is effectively an infinite cost event. Even if such a risk is small, no NPV calculation has any value.

...the possibility of "infinite" cost events.

Never having taken place, thinking about such events would seem to challenge to both frequentist and Bayesian schools of thought.

A charitable interpretation of daniel's comment would assume "infinite" meant "very, very, very large", for example: the extinction of humanity. There have been similar events to the extinction of humanity (past mass extinctions), so there is every reason to assign non-zero probability to human extinction from both frequentist and Bayesian perspectives. There are actually a multitude of events that happen in this universe with non-zero probability (from both probability philosophy perspectives) that could eradicate humanity.

Catastrophic climate change may very well be one of them. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Venus#Evolution

Yes. I really don't know how to do NPV calculations on any event that involves the extinction of humanity, but with any NPV calculation where the cost is more than three orders of magnitude greater than benefit it doesn't really matter how much greater the cost is.

I assume for this reason you also have become religious to avoid a small probability of burning in hell for an infinite amount of time? (See pascals wager.)

These are very different. There is evidence for the possibility of future catastrophic climate change. There is no evidence for the existence of hell.

There are also arguments against Pascal's wager that do not apply to climate change. For example, you can postulate an anti-Christianity Hell, where only non-Christians are spared. This poses a new Pascal wager. There's no reason to think this wager has any different odds than the original: they have the same prior, hence cancel out in an expected value calculation.

>"There are also arguments against Pascal's wager that do not apply to climate change. For example, you can postulate an anti-Christianity Hell, where only non-Christians are spared. "

Could one not also postulate that we are approaching a new ice age, and that carbon emissions are keeping the world from freezing over?

Definitely, although the evidence seems to point to warming as a greater risk than cooling. In addition, there is little evidence for the possibility of a catastrophic cooling capable of making the planet uninhabitable (and not just less ideal), whereas there is evidence that a runaway greenhouse effect could actually make the planet uninhabitable for humans (Venus).

Sure there is some evidence - the existence of a guy claiming to be god's son, a bunch of people claiming miracles occurred, etc. These things are weak evidence in favor of christianity - similarly, there is weak evidence in favor of islam, mormonism, etc.

Given that there is no similar evidence for the Anti-Christianity you postulate, the odds don't cancel.

Another interesting result of this line of thinking: a rational Buddhist/Hindu should convert to Islam/Christianity. If Christianity is correct then you avoid burning in hell forever. If Buddhism is correct you reincarnate and get another shot at enlightenment.

> the existence of a guy claiming to be god's son

Why doesn't such a person show up in Roman records or any one else's records besides Christians then? This is not evidence.


> These things are weak evidence in favor of christianity

I'm not convinced this is true. Certainly the story of Jesus is evidence, but it's not clear which direction the evidence should push us. Someone making a claim does not always mean our posterior estimate on the claim should increase.

Here's a simple example:

I hand you a small bottle filled with medical-looking pills and a nice label. I ask you, "What's the chance these pills cure malignant melanoma cancer?" You think for a moment, then answer, "Very small. There may be a cure eventually, but I've never seen evidence. I'm not on the cutting edge of research though, so perhaps this is a new breakthrough I haven't heard of. Plausible, but unlikely."

I then say, "Well, let me reassure you by showing you the website I ordered the pills from."

I bring up the website, which shows testimonial after testimonial of people claiming the pills cure malignant melanoma cancer. You then respond (correctly), "I've decreased my estimate. There is still a chance, of course, that the pills work, but I now know these pills are not from a legitimate medical breakthrough I hadn't heard of yet. In fact, this website pattern matches as a scam, so I'm decreasing my posterior to an estimate even lower than my completely uninformed prior."

P(Pills work | testimonials) < P(Pills are a scam | testimonials)

Of course, the testimonials would be positive evidence if the pills had passed clinical trials.

Now, which is bigger:

P(Jesus is the son of God | Jesus said he is the son of God)


P(Jesus is was just a guy | Jesus said he is the son of God) ?

Honestly, this is not clear to me at all. But I think once we start taking in all the other evidence related to (but not necessarily in favor of) Christianity things become more clear. Just like the pill's website pattern matched for a scammy website, it seems to me that the evidence related to Christianity pattern matches to the evidence related to other man made religions. So I conclude:

P(Christianity is man-made | evidence) > P(Christianity is correct | evidence)

Hence P(Christianity is correct | evidence) may very well be less than the uniform prior that a particular god exists.

Edit: The above symbols aren't right, as yummy points out below, but the argument and analogy is sound. What we care about is the change in probability of each possibility. If

P(Christianity is man-made | evidence) > P(Christianity is man-made)

then we can conclude that Christianity is less likely due to the evidence.

The right question: is P(prophet|says prophet) > P(prophet|says ordinary guy)?

My argument is only that any semi-mainstream religion is more likely to be true than some random arbitrary belief system. I.e., Christianity and Islam are both more likely than Anti-Christianity.

I just don't buy your argument that the evidence for all possible religions (including ones you made up for this argument only) cancel out. That's a massive coincidence. And if the evidence only cancels out 99.9999999% rather than 100%, you find yourself back in a Pascal's Wager situation.

Your argument's invalid, because P(prophet) has nothing to do with whether $diety is telling the truth through said prophet or lying. The only way to predict whether $diety is an earnest hypocrite or a master of deception is by pulling a prior out of your posterior.

Computing a posterior, whether about god or controlling climate via human actions, requires a prior. All decisionmaking requires a prior. What's your point?

My point is that your question about who's a prophet is irrelevant. You claim that stories of Jesus is evidence of Christianity -- or that Christians go to heaven -- but it's really evidence of anti-Christianity if you think God would set up honeypot ideologies. You're not doing anything but looping back around to the original question, that if Christianity is real, is it actually a honeypot? The religion's paraphernalia doesn't matter, and the "evidence" you've suggested doesn't affect the chance of it being a honeypot. That it's a question of picking priors is not news to the anti-Christianity anti-Pascal's wager people, that's what they're saying. For example, your act of saying that Jesus is evidence for Christianity and not anti-Christianity is just a roundabout way of saying your priors are anti-honeypot.

Also, the phrase about pulling a prior out of your posterior was meant as a double entendre between your circular reasoning and the well known anti-Bayesian epithet. But it is easily pointed out that controlling climate via human actions requires a much easier prior than computing a posterior about god: its prior is essentially that reality is real and so is Doppler radar. A choice of priors about God, on the other hand, doesn't require throwing away belief in the empirical reality.

Controlling climate via human actions requires far more than simply postulating that Doppler radar works. A huge number of mathematically unproven simplifications are performed when going from Navier-Stokes to GCM models, in addition to a number of known to be false assumptions (e.g., anisotropic viscosity of water). A large number of assumptions are thrown into GCM models for parameters that are unknown.

Admitting the possibility that god (or god-like beings) exists does not require throwing away belief in empirical reality. See, for example, simulation theories.

In any case, my reasoning is merely a continuity argument. TheEzEzz asserted that the very small probability of Christianity and Anti-Christianity, and Islam+Anti-Islam cancel exactly. I'm asserting that if the distributions are continuous then this has probability 0 - it takes a ridiculously tiny amount of evidence or an infinitesimally different prior to put you back into Pascal's wager territory.

> Controlling climate via human actions requires far more than simply postulating that Doppler radar works.

Obviously I'm not saying that it doesn't (well it was obvious to me...). It's a stand-in for everything you'd use. The point is, it's beliefs that stuff you see working will continue working, be it radar or temperature gauges, the laws of physics, or mathematical simplifications or approximations. There is presumably some reason why some seemingly totally made up constants aren't actually 10 times the chosen values, or why it doesn't matter, or how likely that's the case. The difference between this and beliefs about God is that if you don't have reasons why you think the CO2 reading are wrong or why physics will change or why certain mathematical simplifications will stop working, you have to give reasons, you're, epistemologically speaking, discarding empiricism from your toolbox. You can't simply go "Laa dee daa I'm picking different priors than you." There has to be some reason (though it might be that they're going laa dee daa).

> Admitting the possibility that god (or god-like beings) exists does not require throwing away belief in empirical reality.

That's what I said. The difference is that unlike science and measurements of reality, there's no endless stream of evidence to beat your initial priors out of you. Unless you have 100% faith that past events can't be used to predict future outcomes, you'll get dragged over to the empiricist side. But you could have 90% faith in Christianity and maybe that'll only get beaten down to 40%, because there's just no evidence. (Not to mention the more practical way to get people to change their beliefs, no visible consequences for being wrong, either.)

> it takes a ridiculously tiny amount of evidence or an infinitesimally different prior to put you back into Pascal's wager territory.

Sure. But the same goes for putting you into anti-Christianity territory. The expected displacement a tiny amount of evidence would push you is 0 (if we regard the continued absence of new evidence to be evidence itself (e: and assuming potential "big" evidence is neglible, of course)). The whole argument against Pascal's wager is that it's about what your priors are.

And yeah, I don't know what TheEzEzz's 50/50 symmetry is all about.

Climate change models are based on data. Old data, but real data. The concept wouldn't have even occurred to us had real, physical phenomena not suggested it. The deviation of recent data from predictive models does not indicate that nothing is going on an everything is tickety-boo. It merely indicates we don't fully understand what's going on and our models still don't have much predictive power.

So, if we don't fully understand what's going on, what do we do? Nothing? That's idiotic. It's utter paralysis. Would you invest in a tech company that refuses to do anything unless it fully understands the outcome? Sadly, human existence is lived in a perpetual state of trial and error. What we can do is weigh the consequences our actions could have based on our current, best understanding of the situation and then make the best choice we can.

Climate change might not fit our models, but our limited understanding of what's going on indicates there could be dire consequences if we do nothing. Action always has a cost, however. If indeed efforts against climate change have caused poor people to starve (evidence please!), how do we weigh this against massive famines that may occur in the future because of climate change?

Dr. Spencer is jumping to conclusions far more spurious and unsupported than any of the climate scientists he derides. We would do well do ignore him. As such, I am flagging this article. If this is an abuse of the flag feature, please let me know and I will unflag it.

You can flag what you want, but I'm unconvinced by your arguments. You concede that he makes a point and we have no predicitive power when it comes to the climate.

After that you don't really win me back.


    Please don't submit comments complaining that a submission is inappropriate for the site. 
    If you think something is spam or offtopic, flag it by going to its page and clicking on
    the "flag" link. (Not all users will see this; there is a karma threshold.) If you flag
    something, please don't also comment that you did.

Well, for one the rules directly state: "If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did." Further, the rules also state that one should flag things which are "spam or offtopic." The list of flag worthy offenses isn't extensive, and I am sure there are other reasons, but something tells me that flagging something simply because you disagree with it is NOT ok.

We shouldn't upvote crap links. Unfortunately many people will upvote crap. The only way to keep garbage off the front page is for some people to flag it.

Otherwise known as the Reddit hivemind syndrome. Don't agree with someone's opinion? Flag or bury it? How about instead you rebut it in the comments and help inform those "crap voters".

Because with things like climate change denialism there is very little point in having that conversation.

People either listen to the vast majority of scientists (global change is happening; global change is almost certainly driven by human activity) or they can listen to scientists who do not work in climate and who have been paid by industry to create FUD - some of these scientists are the same people who ised to work for the tobacco industry.

Well I'm willing to bet that this graph will reappear all over the internet. People in this thread spent a lot of time debating the evidence and logic surrounding it, and posting links to rebuttals. Since you've flagged this topic and it's disappeared from the front pages, it just makes it more likely that this graph will spread round the internet unchallenged.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that we have no idea what effect the policies have. They could be good, BUT they can also have bad results. I mean bad beyond just the economic implications. Since the climate system has been working a certain way for ~10000 years, I'd say the default position should be that nothing is going to change.

What's missing from your reply is an answer to the data he's showing. A long time criticism of the IPCC is that, well, they're wrong. In the sense that if you compare their numbers with reality, their predictions turn out to be a pile of crap. In a truly absolute sense of the word. The IPCC's 95% certainty bands it gave for 5 years out have been violated EVERY single time (5 times) they made a prediction (for the 6th prediction, the jury is still out until the end of next year. However, it's not looking good).

If they really were 95% sure, that means they had a once in 16 MILLION years streak of bad luck (1/0.05^5 * 5 years) (and unless that 6th prediction works out, and global temperature rises by at least 1.2 degrees in about a year and a half, that will be a once in 320 million years streak of bad luck). That is significantly less believable, in my humble opinion, than the theory that they're just pulling numbers out of their ass (not necessarily intentionally), no matter how unflattering that claim may be to the many smart people working that field.

So in short : yes, I think doing nothing is the correct answer. You can't hope to do a better job doing something versus not doing something in this case, so the best course of action (least cost/maximum benefit) can only be to not do anything. So yes, nothing.

Either that, or switch to climate engineering (ie. change the question : no longer about how to restore "natural" climate, whatever that is. The question becomes : how do we fully bend the climate to our will. That and related questions, like what do we actually want the climate to be (I doubt the answer will be as simple as people think)).

So I don't agree with your flagging this, no. Yes, the article's author is probably not the right person to believe this claim from. But he's right (well, the first few paragraphs). And science is all about what is right, not who.

Speaking of piles of crap:

"The IPCC's 95% certainty bands it gave for 5 years out have been violated EVERY single time"

Alternatively, you could tell the truth that they've been accurate:


Interesting article.

I disagree in methodology with the article on several fronts however. It basically boils down to them selecting IPCC predictions after the fact, and even after cherry picking what they compare with, they still adjust the data. Then they also cherry-pick what dataset to compare against. Even that is only enough to raise the observed level just above the lower bounds. Even then, I find that the data presented in their graphs does not look at all like a "remarkably good" prediction. But I disagree strongly with this way of evaluating the data. When evaluating a prediction made in the past you do not get to cherry pick out of a set of predictions, you ONLY get to pick the one you found most likely in the past. Second you most certainly do not get to adjust the prediction made in the past in any way. The article violates both. That means if you want to convince me, please unadjusted business-as-usual scenario only.

From the article:

> Figure 2 accounts for the lower observed GHG emissions than in the IPCC BAU projection, and compares its 'Best' adjusted projection with the observed global surface warming since 1990.

In case you're wondering, adjusted means adjusted by the author of the article (in december 2012). That's just unfair. Also "Best" does NOT mean the best scenario as set forth in the IPCC first assessment report, but the one he finds agrees with the data. This is bullshit. Cherry-picking predictions. Adjusting the results of you prediction AFTER the results are known. Sorry, but let me summarize my attitude here : fuck off.

Furthermore he cheats by omission : there are 2 major temperature records, and guess what, he uses the warmest measurement. Not mentioned anywhere in the article.

From the IPCC first assessment report (policymaker's section):

> under the IPCC Business-as-Usual (Scenario A) emissions of greenhouse gases, a rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century of about 0 3°C per decade (with an uncertainty range of 0 2°C to 0 5°C per decade), this is greater than that seen over the past 10,000 years This will result in a likely increase in global mean temperature of about 1°C above the present value by 2025 and VC before the end of the next century The rise will not be steady because of the influence of other factors.

If you simply take the recommendation from the policymaker's section, and evaluate the temperatures against that, an entirely different picture emerges. I don't intend to make a graph here, but let's summarize :

IPCC prediction in BAU scenario :

0.2 to 0.5 degrees rise per decade from 1990 to 2010

Now obviously there's various ways to calculate the actual temperature difference, but none of them see 0.2 degrees rise:

1990 vs 2000 : 0.03 degrees warmer in 2000 (and no, 1990 was not particularly warm, although 2000 appears to have been a relatively cold year. Taking 1999 or 2001 or even 2002 still doesn't fix their prediction though)

Average of the 90s versus average of 2000-2010: 0.13 degrees rise (this I find the "fairest" way of measuring, but it doesn't allow us to evaluate 2000-2010 yet)

Average of the first 2 years of the decade (meaning you can check accuracy for 2000-2010 as well)

1990 -> 2000 : 0.15 degrees warmer in 2000 2000 -> 2010 : 0.05 degrees warmer in 2010

I have made my own graphs of the situation (Ipython rocks !), and overlayed them on the actual pictures from the IPCC publications, and the simple observation is : we are currently below the 95% certainty interval of the BAU scenario in the IPCC FAR. And it is a matter of 0.9 degrees in 2010 (that is, the real observed temperature was 0.9 degrees below the lower bound set forth in the IPCC's report), which is more than the predicted rise during that period (in other words : the error is bigger than the prediction).

So sorry to say, but this article fixes up the data by cherrypicking from the FAR, adding in "adjustments" and yes, it seems to be able to come to a reasonable picture. I call bullshit on that methodology though, for obvious reasons. If you're defending your prediction made in 1990 you do not get to revise said prediction in any way. You also don't get to make 5 predictions in 1990, then pick the "average" from 2 of them and show it matches the data.

So perhaps I should be more explicit : comparing the current satellite temperature record to the IPCC FAR report's "Business as usual" scenario, without adjusting it, the temperature has been below the lower bound of the 95% certainty interval since 1994. After 1996 there hasn't been a single temperature peak in the IPCC's predicted bounds. They were wrong, and not just a little bit.

A similar problem occurs between my own evaluation of the IPCC's second third and fourth report (and the article doesn't look at the fifth, probably because there's not that much data to evaluate it). I find this article woefully unconvincing.

Climate engineering scares the shit out of me. I think this article is right, we do not fully understand global warming. We know something is happening, we do NOT know exactly what OR why. But we have the fucking hubris to assume that we can make it better (through climate engineering)!? Without even fully understanding the problem.

That said, we can still work on improving the world and cutting down CO2 emissions AND pollution. Global warming or not, no one can argue with the fact that air quality in large cities in US, India, and China is atrocious. Global warming may or may not kill us, but pollution is killing people, now, today. And that pollution is 100% man made, no argument about that.

I personally think we should work on innovation of power production, not conservation of said power. Better battery technology and better solar photovoltaic technology is the future, in my personal opinion.

UPDATE: updated for clarity.

> Global warming or not, no one can argue with the fact that air quality in large cities in US, India, and China is atrocious.

You can argue with that for the US. "atrocious" compared to what? It's certainly a lot better than it used to be.

> And that pollution is 100% man made, no argument about that.

Not 100%, no. Some of our pollution is nature-made. Los Angeles was smoggy before there were any cars there - the Chumash indian tribe called Los Angeles basin "the valley of smoke". It has environmental conditions conducive to collecting particulates in the air - even pollen and dust and wood smoke from natural fires will collect and form a lingering haze there.

We have the fucking hubris to assume that we can stop impacting it by emitting tons of chemicals into environment, turning tons of earth over, cutting down acres of forests. That's not making it better, that's just not making it as much as worse, as fast. We are way far from 'climate engineering' when we can't even reduce impact by 2%.

Of course he's looking at one small set of data: temperature measurements. Consider the wide range of physical and biological changes occurring. Drunken forests. Polar ice melt. Bird migration changes (earlier spring and later fall, as well as some novel over-wintering). Changes in animal and plant ranges (including massive pest increases in some areas). Dying coral reefs. Increased extreme weather events (ask the insurance industry about their take on that). Screw the models. The data is pretty clear.

I don't know enough about meteorology to comment on the article, but this quote bugged me:

"And if humans are the cause of only, say, 50% of the warming (e.g. our published paper), then there is even less reason to force expensive and prosperity-destroying energy policies down our throats."

No, there's the exact same amount of reason. This isn't a morality play, who's "fault" it is doesn't matter. If there were a meteor heading towards us on a collision course, would we reason against sending Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck to stop it because it wasn't caused by us?

> No, there's the exact same amount of reason. This isn't a morality play, who's "fault" it is doensn't matter.

Of course it matters -- in terms of the amount of impact human activity has on the climate. The less impact it has, the less beneficial you can expect energy policies to be to the environment. Since these policies have a non-trivial cost in terms of human suffering (less energy for heating, growing food, etc.), it is crucial to estimate their effectiveness.

It doesn't matter in a moral sense. If someone proves that CO2 emissions don't cause global warming, then yeah, it makes it less effective to focus on CO2 emissions. But we still want to stop warming from happening, so we'd increase our efforts on whatever they pinpoint as the alternative cause.

The linked article I was rebutting wasn't making that utilitarian case, they were making a moral case about not being obligated to avert warming at all, which I think is thoroughly bullshit, because I live here.

> The linked article I was rebutting wasn't making that utilitarian case, they were making a moral case about not being obligated to avert warming at all

I re-read the article and I don't understand how you arrive at this interpretation. This appears to be something you're assuming. The article is precisely about the utilitarian argument: the trade-off between the expected effectiveness of energy policies and their cost.

It matters precisely in a moral sense. Because of the (in)effectuality of the action. Resources are scarce, and you are taking food from a baby...somewhere in the world. Of course none of this matters if you are having "first-world" pyschological problems about guilt...or you are trying to secure some money or presige for your first-world cushy lifestyle.

Energy production is the main 'human contribution' (I think?).

Are you really saying, that the Energy industry is a starving baby?

They are the richest companies in the world, they can easily afford ALL of the changes that have been suggested, but it isn't about 'affordability' it is about profitablity.

Making things more efficient, and encouraging more self/clean power generation runs contrary to Energy companies profit motive, so of course they will resist it and even run marketing to say that the world will be worse off if it is more efficient and "cleaner".

And as a collective we have and continue to be stupid enough to buy into their narrative.

This is an argument from convenience. Its like blaming the drug dealers for wall street's cocaine problems. Notwithstanding that issue, you have the opportunity cost of focus and attention on something. Which means you likely have remidiable inefficiency in other areas. It is that which kills...like taking your eye off the road and having a car accident. Again, that has nothing to do with the (oil,power,auto) companies or whether or not you dirve a prius, a tesla, or an F-150.

Then please refute the "energy is the largest contributing industry" statement with some fact rather than rhetoric.

In your metaphor, this is like blaming the drug dealers for the "drugs being sold on the street" problem. The drug dealer has no interest in selling you a 'drug manufacturing kit' for your home, he/she wants to keep you coming back.

I was pointing out, that given it is a humanistic/moral issue. The corporate 'profit motive' has nothing to provide. We have the resources to do everything we want to do, and it makes ethical sense. But a rational organisation (which is, by definition driven by profit) would never invest in this, because it would reduce its profit.

This isn't an argument of convenience, this is a "point out the fucking obvious"

This is a political argument about taxes, and has nothing to do with either climate or science. If you want to tax these people, go ahead...get together a bunch of special interests and some money and go lobby the relevant folks.

"I was pointing out, that given it is a humanistic/moral issue."

It may very well be indeed. But in the context of the submitted article and its discussion, it is proving the point about the use and abuse of data and science. There is a difference between a "moral use of science" and dressing up a "moral/political special interest position" as a <position of science>.

As I am sure you would appreciate.

I have no 'special interest'. I was responding to the idea that "we can't respond because of starving babies" comment.

That is factually untrue, and my response was based on fact, there is money, and it could be used, no babies would stave.

But I pointed out it was never considered because if the profit motive.

You seem to be railing against a position I am not holding.

To simplify:

"We could do everything we thought was needed to decrease global warming and no baby would need to starve".

I'm not saying:

- We need to do something

- We are the cause of global warming

- Doing the things we think will reduce global warming will actually reduce global warming.

Scarce resources aren't the cause of starving babies

> Scarce resources aren't the cause of starving babies

They aren't? Wait, let's make the claim more specific. Biofuel mandates that had been justified in part based on CO2 concerns have driven up the cost of corn and other grains - crops and farmland is being needlessly diverted from food to fuel. Making grains more expensive has indeed been a cause of starvation in the third world.

Um, here:


that's a bit strange to me, there is a lot of economic activity for to be gathered from re-newing things and insulating houses in rich countries. It's just rich kids churning around disposable income in products made by poor people (basic trickle down), it's not really relevant if it's for new gas-guzzler cars parts and AC units or insulation panels and busses they spend it on.

If the impact of global warming is significantly smaller than predicted and the human-induced contribution to that reduced warming is also much smaller than claimed, then expensive "green" policies indeed need to be reevaluated. Your fault reasoning has nothing to do with it.

Think of it from a programming perspective. You've suddenly discovered that your program runtime wasn't near as slow as you thought. Plus you've shown that most of the runtime is driven by systems external to your code. It makes sense to reconsider how much effort to invest in for code optimization.

Except that the entire "humans are responsible for say n%" is the latest diversionary tactic by climate deniers to sucker rational people onto opposing policy that mitigates climate change.

The argument is akin to saying "your program slowdown is - and I'm making up a number out of thin air - 50% caused by systems outside of your control so you should definitely spend 50% less time optimizing the things you can optimize".

The logical flaws are blatant: the % is an invention, and the truth or otherwise of the premise has no bearing on the action you can and should take.

Let me get this right: you're saying that human emissions of CO2 need to be reduced in order to mitigate climate change regardless of whether CO2 emissions cause any warming?

If humans caused 100% of the change then we can stop causing it. If humans caused 0% of the change then we can't stop causing it and must adapt to it. If humans caused 50% of the change, then we can stop some of it but will have to adapt to the rest.

Obviously the premise has a huge bearing on the action we can and should take.

Firstly, I said it was in invention. It's an argument that has the benefit of never having to provide any sort of evidence to back it up.

But since I'm forced to attack the strawman: let me put it another way: if humans are responsible for less warming than 100%, then we're going to have to do more to mitigate our effects, because we have to mitigate more human behaviour for the same outcome.

Until we're making meaningful changes - yet to happen - it's utterly irrelevant if we've caused 50%, or 100%.

Suppose that it's significantly greater than predicted? Are you willing to bet your future happiness, and the health and wealth of the rest of humanity, that it isn't?

> Suppose that it's significantly greater than predicted? Are you willing to bet your future happiness, and the health and wealth of the rest of humanity, that it isn't?

Yes. Of course I am. We make those sorts of bets constantly, because Pascal's Wager doesn't work. We can't not make those sorts of bets.

When somebody says "the end of the world is nigh!" it is almost always worth waiting a bit to see if in fact the thing they're worrying about is actually a problem. Hindcasting is nice and all but the real test is: Does the warming trend actually continue as predicted and if so, once it does get warmer, do we actually see negative effects from it that significantly outweigh all the likely positive effects of warming?

The warming trend is continuing, and the insurance industry is already seeing significant negative effects. See for example [0], [1], [2], [3], all from a single search on "insurance industry extreme weather trends"

[0] http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/extreme-weat...

[1] http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2014/02/14/allianz-sto...

[2] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/partners/advinsurancetrends11...


Even if it's still "warming" at all - whether it is depends on what timescale you look at and how you average the data points - it's certainly not continuing as predicted, but rather at a lower rate than expected. Breathless media stories notwithstanding, nobody thinks the amount of warming we've seen thus far is likely to have generated measurably "more extreme" weather. One of your links is about Sandy, but atlantic Hurricane activity has been unusually LOW over the last decade, with 2013 one of the lowest yet. You should perhaps balance your diet with more stories like this:


(Regardless, even if there were measurable negative effects you would need to balance them against the measurable positive effects to determine if the NET externality was positive or negative. It's silly to add up just one side - even the IPCC doesn't do that.)

I think you're missing the point. Climate change policy is an optimization problem: how much money do we spend (either active on counter-measures or passively by capping energy usage) to reduce temperature change by some amount. If we can only affect it half as much as we thought we could, would we still spend the same amount? Maybe, but it's not exactly a no-brainer.

" If we can only affect it half as much"

You've made a great point - if we've really reached a tipping point at some of the more extreme global warming alarmists, you wouldn't spend any money at all. So they've inadvertently caused logical people to decide we shouldn't do anything.

The other end of the spectrum would try to convince you that global warming isn't real (global warming and cooling has happened for eons - without man's help) and that it's therefore not worth doing anything.

As an ecologist, I drive my wife and kids nuts with my need to recycle ... and take it a step beyond. I've repaired all sorts of "throw-away" household gadgets (most recently my wife's straightening iron) and try to give away working items we no longer need (freecycle). So I still believe we should each do what we can to minimize our impact on the planet, whether or not global warming is real.

If we can only affect it half as much as we thought we could, would we still spend the same amount?

Maybe you'd have to spend twice as much to have the desired effect.

prosperity-destroying energy policies

Ever notice how climate change skeptics implicitly claim perfect economic foresight? They may not buy that the Earth is warming or what the cause is, but they're absolutely certain that trying to weatherproof our civilization is going to result in collective bankruptcy. Oh yes.

> but they're absolutely certain that trying to weatherproof our civilization is going to result in collective bankruptcy. Oh yes.

? This is hardly a deep economic forecast. If you force people to engage in expenditures they were otherwise never going to make, it's a pretty safe bet they're not going to be better off. After all, if they were better off for it, why weren't they already going to do it? We can maybe imagine a few scenarios to do with personal health and things like that where paternalism works, but nothing to do with global warming looks like that. Working against global warming is going to be expensive, there's no question about that; the question is whether working against global warming is less expensive than not.

I knew a brilliant math professor who was a skeptic based on his statistical analysis, but did not have any interest in trying to influence policy there.

If we're only the cause of 50% of the warming that implies curbing our behavior only has half the impact that it would if we caused 100% of the warming. Granted, geoengineering projects that impact total warming are different.

Throwing out a percentage like that is meaningless. I contributed to 50% of the trash in my household last month. If that's 300 lbs, then curbing it is significant. If it's 3 lbs, then it isn't. If he can't provide more concrete figures for his argument then the argument has no meaning.

If we're only the cause of 50% of the warming that implies curbing our behavior only has half the impact that it would if we caused 100% of the warming.

No, it does not imply that, not unless we know of a linear relationship between "warming" and "impact." From what I understand, the relationship is far from linear, i.e. our changes can have disproportionate impact.

The climate change thing is almost a red herring vis a vis fossil fuels.

The supply of fossil fuels is absolutely limited. We don't know where these limits are exactly. But what we do know is that if we have no alternatives, our entire civilization will collapse when we run out of them. Billions of people will die. Centuries of learning will be forgotten. A new dark age will result.

Now that is "prosperity-destroying."

This is reason #1 to do everything we can to move beyond fossil fuels. Climate change may be reason #2, or maybe reason #3 after geopolitical concerns. But even if there is no manmade climate change at all, we must do everything we can to develop alternatives to fossil fuels now while we still have the time and energy to do so. The danger of collapse due to fossil fuel depletion is so great that I'm not even sure if climate change ranks.

So why are we still even arguing about this?

Thank you. What we are seeing here is nothing more than a rationalization and opportunistic bolstering of his preexisting belief system.

In the end global warming might be better than we're expecting but it is the political and social inferences, like in the quote you included, that belie his true intent.

nothing more than a rationalization and opportunistic bolstering of his preexisting belief system

Whose behavior does that not describe?

Believe it or not, there are people who consider evidence, logic, and consequences, and base their understanding off of that.

There may be a few, but there are countless more who falsely believe this about themselves. Therefore it is wiser in most cases, especially one's own, to presume that this belief is self-deception. Self-observation quickly reveals how often the emotional reaction precedes and conditions the cognitive one.

If someone can show a track record of having changed their views, and their arguments are from the perspective of achieving a greater understanding, and not of cramming some ideology down others' throats, I'm markedly more willing to consider that they are sincere in this statement.

It's not necessary to bend in every wind, but I look for some signs of adaptability.


would we reason against sending Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck to stop it

Yes, because Tom Cruise could stop it better.

Thou shalt not make a graph without error bars.

In that respect, the error here belongs entirely to whoever made that graph in the first place. They plotted all those models together to try to convince the reader that all models point to doom. But in doing so without error bars, they implied a level of confidence for specific years that was entirely absent from the models.

In principle, ok, but you wouldn't be able to see anything if that graph also included error bars for 100 climate models.

The "article" relies entirely on this faulty graph, and then draws spurious conclusions... The graph by itself may be forgivable, but surrounded by this pattern of faulty thinking it is just one more piece of nonsense.

You can't really see anything with 100 climate models without error bars. While your statement may be correct, the point is entirely moot.

How do you measure the uncertainty in predictive models? From my physics I remember that measurements have uncertainty. And then you propagate the uncertainty into derived values with differential equations. But how do you ascertain the uncertainty in a computer model? Did the original graphs actually have error bars?

Yes, see the debunk links in here. Those models normally all have ranges. Since he's in expert, it's a reasonable assumption that he either intentionally choose a graph without errors or he intentionally removed the error bars. Don't know which one would be worse.

It would be redundant to include error bars. Each path should be representing a random draw from the space of possible futures.

This is where the guy loses me: "then there is even less reason to force expensive and prosperity-destroying energy policies down our throats" and "increase energy prices and freeze and starve more poor people to death for the greater good"

As if he gives a crap about poor people. People freeze not because of energy policies but because we have poor social welfare and exploitive foreign policy that itself is motivated by self serving right wingers who are exactly the people denying global warming. Pretending to care about the poor to make this point is frankly disgusting.

You lost me. Where does the author make the claims that you appear to be disputing?

Here are the two paragraphs in question:

"And if humans are the cause of only, say, 50% of the warming (e.g. our published paper), then there is even less reason to force expensive and prosperity-destroying energy policies down our throats.

I am growing weary of the variety of emotional, misleading, and policy-useless statements like “most warming since the 1950s is human caused” or '97% of climate scientists agree humans are contributing to warming', neither of which leads to the conclusion we need to substantially increase energy prices and freeze and starve more poor people to death for the greater good."

Does your ctrl+f not work? Both of those quotes were in the sixth paragraph.

The quotes don't make the claims that were being disputed.

How about cheap and prosperity-inducing energy policies? Like weatherproofing, energy efficiency appliance standards, energy efficiency building codes, fuel efficiency auto standards, etc., etc.?

Numerically illiterate horsepuckey.

For example: If 100% of climate models predicted a rise of 10-14C (mean 12C), and we observed a rise of 11C, this doesn't mean that the models are 'wrong', and it CERTAINLY doesn't mean that "the observations must be wrong."

It does mean that there's some potentially interesting correlation in the models' errors, I guess.

[Or, as cjensen said: 'Thou shalt not make a graph without error bars']

So, in general, the failure of a specific prediction from x theory does not in general invalidate the theory, in this case because all of the failed models depend on other assumptions than anthropogenic global warming. This is not because of any limitation of AGW but because climate forecasting is hard and any attempt to predict the goddamn future is going to require a lot of assumptions about a lot of things that can't be predicted (chaps theory). That's okay, because AGW is not based on climate models in the first place, but on a first-principles understanding of radiative forcing and a very well-established "fossil record" of old temperatures. Repeat after me: AGW is not a climate model.

Simply put, there is no precedent in the entire history of the planet Earth for overall heating as pronounced and rapid as the past 100 years of AGW. There are really only two possibilities: either humans are responsible for basically all of the heating, or there is a giant demon who is trying to stir-fry the human race.

So if you think that the recent warming is not anthropogenic... find Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, fast.

No love for Ernie Hudson?

95% of the climate models could also be wrong. Prior information could be wrong. Almost no atmosphere models resolve cloud cover properly.

Making sweeping statements like this is not encouraged in the scientific community. Now, that's not say we can't learn something from this graph. But to learn more, detail is needed in how the graph was generated. There's more to this than meets the eye.

I'm willing to be wrong, but I'd like to see all the facts first.

The global warming issue is complex. If you are a skeptic about CO2 increases due to humans, warming since 1880 or the basic science of greenhouse gasses you are simply uninformed. However if you are not modestly skeptical of mult-decade forecasts of temperature, rainfall or cyclones you are simply naive. These are incredibly complex systems that are only partial understood.

Just apply a simple rule of thumb to this situation - if someone has a doctorate and insists in being referred to by "Dr." then they're probably not confident in what they're doing. Nearly every place that Roy Spencer is mentioned he is referred to as Dr. Roy Spencer.

The one exception to this is "humorous" situations. For example, when writing trite complaint letters or on a frequent flier memberships.

To anybody reading this article, While Dr. Spencer does have real credentials, he is a know denier. I'm not saying that makes him necessarily wrong, but he is extremely biased in his views, and often publish research to back up those biased views. So I think he's comments should be taken with a grain of salt.

Indeed, had to look at the author after the poor emotionally charged writing made his biases immediately clear.

Most people, once they've established a position, become incredibly "biased" in their views. Skeptical Science, which I mention because it is referenced some dozen times in here, is the sort of site that proselytizes to the converted. It has driven a stake in the ground demarcating its position, and everything has to be relative to that stake.

The tell is the angry sarcasm, which releases chemicals of pleasure in the brains of the already-convinced, but turns off anyone else.

I had been grasping for a word for this phenomenon for so long. Thank you.

True in the broadest sense I suppose. I'm personally fine with driving a stake into the ground at "the consensus opinion of scientific experts".

That's a different type of bias than driving the stake into a specific conclusion because the other stake moves. Frequently.

To be fair, I think this only because it agrees with my pro-reason bias.

How is "the consensus opinion of scientific experts" determined? Does that mean majority view, unanimous, or what? Is group voting really a good way to decide such things? But if you aren't talking about a type of vote, what do you mean?

And who decides who qualifies as a "scientific expert"? Isn't that problematic?

To oversimplify a fair bit, when the vast majority of people who have spend years studying a subject and have the respect of the other people doing the same agree that's "consensus". There are plenty of subjects that do not have a consensus opinion, plenty of times a consensus fractures into multiple camps, etc.

Who's an expert? Anyone who can convince other experts they are also an expert in a culture that glorifies reason and evidence and where the most status can be gained by disagreeing with everyone and then convincing them you were right all along.

You definitely seem to want an algorithm for this kind of thing, but there isn't one. It's an exercise in applied philosophy involving building an artificial culture made up of irrational human beings. It's incredibly problematic from your perspective I suppose. People are inherently problematic from that perspective, as is dealing with the unknown. From my perspective I'll take it until there is something better, because right now this is the way to get the best chance of being right about any subject.

If some cell biologist came in here and told HN that GOTO's were the only control structure you needed for programming, although he had never programmed anything but that doesn't matter because he's smart and he reads about programming a lot, people would tell him he's wrong and that this is pretty well established and universally agreed upon. If he responded with "What did you guys do? Vote on it? Who gets to vote?" you would see that there is a pretty big disconnect between reality and how this biologist thought the culture worked.

I do not want an algorithm. My point was closer to: there is no algorithm, and so this approach doesn't work.

What I actually want is a different approach that rejects authority.

"this approach doesn't work" ... the fact you sent me this message over the internet in our modern society begs to differ. Science does actually work.

As to a different approach that rejects authority ... What would that look like? Would we not value expertise anymore? Would there be no expertise anymore? I like being allowed to get good at something by putting in effort ... and once I do I'm going to be right about the subject more often than those who haven't put in effort. And people will notice that and listen to me, they will value my opinion more than others.

I'm pretty lost as to how this dynamic could be broken in a non-nightmarish way.

I said authority doesn't work, not science doesn't work. I think science works in a way other than authority.

Being right more often does not mean you're right in any particular dispute, so how exactly does it matter? Every dispute has to be resolved based on the actual ideas in question, not the authority of the person who said a particular idea.

There is consensus on a very small percentage of the dogma that is so often dragged into this debate. Haughtily declaring your "pro-reason bias" doesn't help your cause, and it makes you appear irrational.

The Earth's climate is an enormously complex mechanism that is barely understood, and there is a tendency to make models that confirm a hypothesis (just read this today - http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/02/15/rapidly_warming.... That sort of nuttery from the other side would get eviscerated, but it sells to an agenda).

I admit to being amused, in that he is implicitly buying into the assumption that there is a mathematical model (which can then be run through a computer) that can describe "how climate works" on Earth.

As if there is some huge Excel spreadsheet in a supercomputer and the jerks just keep on putting in wrong numbers to scare us.

There isn't, and there won't be for (my estimate) at least another century - we don't even understand the Gulf Stream well enough to accurately model and then predict its behavior, much less everything else, including atmospheric dust.

I don't know why the uncertainties of climate modelling is valid reason for inaction. When one of the possible outcomes of dumping trillions of tons of GHG into the atmosphere is global disaster, then the poorer our models the more we should be worried.

Exactly. There are two major questions: either the models are right or they are wrong, and either we successfully curb emissions on a very large scale (action) or we do not (inaction). This gives us four outcomes:

1. Models are Right + Action = huge spending on energy but we save the planet

2. Models are wrong + Action = huge spending on energy that otherwise would be spent on defense, etc. but we are left with a renewable energy infrastructure.

3. Models are wrong + inaction = little money spent on new power sources, left with fossil fuel-based infrastructure. When fossil fuels run out in 100-200 years, have to build renewable infrastructure to replace it.

4. Models are right + inaction = little money spent on new power sources, left with fossil fuel-based infrastructure. When fossil fuels run out in 100-200 years, have to build renewable infrastructure to replace it. Also, dramatic weather changes, widespread famine, etc.

Does inaction make sense even if the models are wrong?

It is nice to see such innocence in this day and age. Regardless of whether or not we can manage to do anything about the problem, the fear people have is the vast amounts of power and wealth we are transferring to select groups of people based on political considerations, rather than market forces. Maybe we can select the perfect "leaders" to do this job justly. Prudence would dictate that you should imagine your political opposites coming into this position. So the worst case scenario is that we enrich a small minority, who are likely to stir up untold strife and suffering in wielding their unearned power. And we still don't solve the problems.

"the fear people have is the vast amounts of power and wealth we are transferring to select groups of people based on political considerations"

Ah, yes, like we do now, with the oil companies.

Whether humans are the cause of 100% of the observed warming or not, the conclusion is that global warming isn’t as bad as was predicted. That should have major policy implications…assuming policy is still informed by facts more than emotions and political aspirations.

Because there's been such a powerful political reaction in favour of all the scientists talking about warming? To the casual observer, it really looks more like Business As Usual.

Expected CO2 increases would modify the Earth's albedo by 0.4%. Clouds modify it by > 25%.

We can't predict clouds more than five days in advance, under our well-studied present climate conditions.

It is difficult to see why climate modelers are confident they can predict average cloud cover in the future when different climate conditions are in effect.

The problem is that the same things which are thought to cause global warming also cause significant pollution, the harm of which is not in question. Most people do not question whether smog and mercury in the air are problems, and the sourcing and processing of fossil fuels creates significant harmful pollution, too.

This is very interesting.. I'd like to hear more from experts in the field. I was never fully convinced that global warming was that bad. But then again I have always taken it for granted that we caused it, and that it has great effects on humans and animals.

I wish that climate-deniers and flat earthers were flagged off the front page of HN as fast as any discussion of sexism in the tech community is.

And I wish religious zealots would be banned in the comments section as well.

Roy Spencer's ancestor, Easter Island 1720: "The graphs that show the number of sizable trees on the island going to zero in just a few years are OBVIOUSLY bullshit!"

Roy Spencer is a delusional f*c$wit.

I don't say that lightly. I tried having long conversations with climate fake sceptics, and they are totally refractory to reality and its measurement.

Very convincing ad homs.

To be taken seriously in future discussions you're best advised to change your user name.

IANAS but it never made sense to me that global warming would be linear with amount of CO_2, at some point, I figured 95% of the available IR would be absorbed by the atmosphere and doubling the CO_2 would only get us to, like, 97.5%. Then again, we are experiencing some crazy weather patterns recently.

Other effects of CO_2, like ocean acidification can be seen through both direct chemical measurement and by the observed environmental effects on coral reefs.

The problem with this article is how the author frames the entire debate around this one measure of climate change, as though this is the only possible observation of climate change.

The issue of human contribution to climate change is much more complicated than that. This is an interesting contribution to the discussion, but it shouldn't be the only piece of information we go from.

SourceWatch profile on Roy C. Spencer:


"One of the few AGW deniers with real credentials", Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist for the University of Alabama at Huntsville (also home to AGW denier John Christy) and is the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA's Aqua satellite.

Spencer is on the nine-member board of the antiregulation, Scaife- and Bradley-funded Marshall Institute, though he appears not to disclose this affiliation on his website.

I would be much more open to taking climate change skeptics seriously if they didn't consistently descend into full on tinfoil-hat-speak.

"starve more poor people to death for the greater good"

Thank you for playing. No amount of "I'm a Ph.D., I'm a former NASA scientist" is going to help take you seriously after that.

Quick! someone get the wierdos at /. to post this article! As noted in the past, sciebtists can barely predict hurricane tracks. Global climate stuff? Yeah right.

Well he sure sounds like a crackpot.

I'll just leave this here without comment for the open minded:


Might be more persuasive if Huntsville hadn't been relocated to Alaska. Climate change is enough of a challenge to civilization without adding violent tectonic drift.

For a blink I thought I had read "posterity-destroying" and I nodded.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact